February 05, 2007
Emmylou Harris and Colleagues Take Note

The following song is an old classic, and has historical significance. America really doesn't have but a few hoboes anymore. We have streetpeople, whose plight is often worse than that of the old hoboes. My wife and I worked many nights in homeless shelters last winter, and I was struck by the fact that most were working people. So the song is not really relevant, unless you can make analogies. Where are the singer/songwriters of the modern era? Doesn’t this song need updating?


Posted by Buck Batard at February 05, 2007 08:33 AM
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One of the first protest marches to Washington was done by hobos, by 'General' Coxey's army. They had considerable support in the population. The homeless now don't. It's called the concept of denial. Clear the homeless off the streets, put them somewhere they can't be seen and they cease to exist so we can live in riches happily ever after.

Read about 'General' Coxey (he ran for presidency in 1932) here:

Or read about Coxey's army in Jack London's 'The Road':

Posted by: Peter on February 5, 2007 10:25 AM

I'd bet there are still a few people hopping freights, and that some of them might be in your homeless shelters, Buck. Hobos migrate, following the sun. You don't live in the freight cars, you use them to get somewhere more or less invisibly (riding the rails is against RR regulations). When you get there you become a more visible homelsss person.

I used to travel that way myself years ago. Once when I was being interviewed by a panel for a job they asked me (the idea of the panel was to test general knowledge) to name ten American railroads. I aced that one.

Posted by: Ex-hobo on February 5, 2007 10:27 AM

Well, you're right of course. One of the things we noticed was that the homeless migrated to "friendly cities", depending on the season.

I live in Seattle once. A friendly home to the homeless. Government buildings were opened up in the rainy season to the homeless.

The main point I wanted to make was that trickle down economics doesn't trickle down at all. Working a full time job at minimum wage won't get you into a home, at least in most cities, without government help, which is virtually non-existent. Having children might help.

At least for the homeless ladies. (pilloring welcome and encouraged).

Posted by: Buck on February 5, 2007 11:12 AM

There's recent writing of, by, and for. It's just not especially happy stuff a lot of the time.

As for any advantage to being homeless with a family, there isn't one. The stereotype that all homeless people are single adult drunks has become a driving factor for the design of current federal homelessness policy. Some smart and experienced people, including friends of mine, wrote this report, which addresses some of the gaps in services. Among other things it's a big problem that the HUD definition of "homeless" doesn't count people living doubled up with friends or family -- and yet a family with vulnerable members is especially likely to endure bad overcrowding rather than a formally provided shelter.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on February 10, 2007 1:07 AM
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